ZooLung: Fish Eat Dead Skin off My Hands?!? {11/25-26/18} NSLI-Y AY

11/25/18 Sunday

I really do enjoy Sundays. It is so nice to just have a day to lounge around at home: chilling or doing work that needs to be done in preparation for the week to come. It’s a well-deserved break from a hectic life.

This morning was no exception. I spent the morning hanging out in my room doing homework and then playing with my host sisters. They recently took out {or bought?} this clay set so we have had fun playing around with the clay in the living room. I got a lot of work done and was feeling very productive to start the week.

After we had dinner, we all drove for a bit to go to what I can only describe as a Zoo Park? But even then… that sounds wrong… the place was called ZooLung {in Korean 주렁주렁} which honestly is a weird name? I still don’t know why it’s called that? This place is basically like a more interactive zoo!

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There were lots of animals behind cases and in cages but there were parts that would allow the guests to be hands on. For example, we got to pet rabbits and some lizards, feed a hawk type bird, give treats to these small baby birds, and the best part… have fish eat the dead skin off of our hands!! In the underwater section of the place, they had a tank of 닥터피쉬 {닥달이}. These fish are famous for {usually} sucking off the dead skin off of your feet. It was such an interesting feeling. When I first put my hand in the water, I couldn’t help but laugh since I’m so ticklish. Also, so many more fish came to me than any other person so I guess I have gross dead hands? My host sisters were making fun of me, so I joked back and told them if they keep eating like this, my hand will disappear.

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It was a really fun afternoon; we spent a good amount of hours there. We also stopped by a TOYsRUs since Christmas is coming up soon. I was outright shook seeing one of those stores since they all closed in America. I told my host dad this and he explained why this one exists but, to be honest, I didn’t understand…

The rest of the night was pretty chill. I was able to relax a lot because I got most of my work done that morning. I focused on studying vocab because our monthly unit test is on Thursday… I really want to utilize more elevated vocabulary in both my writing and my speaking test.

11/26/18 Monday

Monday was another basic day of school except… I had another GREAT morning commuting to school (If you could not already tell, I am being very sarcastic.) When I went out on Saturday night with some of the others from the NSLI-Y squad (I apologize for using that word un-ironically), I used my last 5 dollars (in cash) on dessert because Josh and Liam told me to. They said I should just use it instead of my card because we would be receiving our stipend on Monday. And, I listened to them– my first mistake.

On Monday morning, I got to the subway station kind of earlier than normal which actually was a blessing in disguise! When I tried going through the turnstile, the machines beeped at me because I had insufficient funds on my card. I only had 50 cents on it! I went to refill and realized I had no cash on me! I definitely could not go back home… what would I do? Wake my host mom up and ask for cash? That was not the move. The bank across the street from the subway station does not accept foreign card at the ATMS (already tried the week before). I was literally about to cry in the middle of the subway station until I realized that I was wearing my school uniform; therefore, I had emergency blazer money! For a couple of weeks, I have kept 5 dollars in the inside pocket of my blazer in case of an emergency (I was thinking it would be more for an “I am hungry at school and want to get a snack from the 매점 (school store) but forgot my wallet in the classroom” moment but this worked too). I whipped out that money so fast to charge my card and went on my way to just make the subway.

School was pretty good. In English, we started talking about the Civil Rights Movement in America and in particular, talked a lot about Martin Luther King Jr. Before we did anything academic in class, Andrew (our 영미문학–American & British Literature–teacher) asked about the students’ weekends because they got to go home the prior weekend. One of the students (I think her English name is Diane) said that she went to an aquarium and it reminded her of her youth. Andrew then quickly adds to her sentence (in truly dad joke fashion) “When you were a fish?” Everyone in the class erupted in laughter for a solid few minutes. Andrew kept apologizing for making such a bad joke which it was… but it was so terrible that it was hilarious!

My AP Statistics class was as usual… I only really enjoyed talking to 세림. She makes me not 100% dread that class. When lunchtime rolled around, Katie and I left the school right away to get lunch near the youth center at a 편의점. We chilled outside while eating our 김밥 and fruity drinks.

Korean class was pretty good today (compared to last class when I literally left the building and cried in public… it can only get better?) We took a quiz and I, unfortunately, got more wrong than I wanted to… for one of the questions I got wrong, it was because I used the wrong verb. I knew I could have answered the question with a simpler verb like “to be fast” or something of that nature but I wanted to really challenge myself so I put “to be on schedule exactly” which I conjugated a bit wrong. The other question I got wrong was because I really had no idea what it was asking, so I expected that to be a point off. The grammar points we learned in class were a bit tricky at first, but I caught on after several example sentences. I was actually really happy because I felt that one of them was very useful and that I would be applying that to conversations a lot soon (and hopefully naturally).

After class, I waited for some of the other students at Better World because they were coming to pick up their stipends. Our RD also prepared little gifts bags for us to prevent us from catching colds during the winter. These bags included vitamin c tablets, fuzzy socks, a mask, and hot packs. It was honestly very adorable. I walked back to the station with Shannon and Katie to go home early for dinner.

When I got home, my host mom gave me this strange look bread type thing? She told me that it was homemade by her mother perhaps? I ended up eating the whole thing as it was pretty good. I am not 100% sure what it was but I have concluded that it is some type of 떡 with red bean and peas in it.

I ate dinner with the rest of the family after my host sisters were done with their Chinese lessons. I talked to them all about my Christmas. My host dad asked me if I kept getting presents even in high school {and if that’s normal} and when I told him yes, he immediately shushed me! Oops.. my sisters started screaming and I’m sorry that I may have just started something…

I spent the rest of Monday studying lots and lots of vocabulary, finishing up my workbook and a writing assignment due the next day.

That’s all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed!

  • Emma 엠마

Celebrating Katie’s Birthday with a “Surprise Party” {11/23-11/24/18} NSLI-Y Korea AY

11/23/18 Friday

Nothing too out of the ordinary happened at school today (When it came to the academic side of things)~ Nothing really worth mentioning at least. Economics was fun only because 세림 is there to talk to me. Philosophy was another class of not understanding anything but pretending to be alert. Luckily, our teacher gave us the last 40 minutes of class to do whatever our hearts’ desired sooo I slept. It was quite nice. Right after 철학 (philosophy), I ran to my locker and then to one of the lounge back rooms in the hallway with Katie’s birthday present. I left it there so that the other girls would know where to meet with all of theirs. I hung out with Katie a bit before lunch started and told her that we needed to go to that back room {it was on a different floor too} because I lost my workbook. I didn’t think it was an unbelievable lie but apparently, Katie knows me too well and knew that if I actually misplaced my workbook, I’d be WAY more emotional.



When we got to the room, everyone’s back was turned and then I jumped into the room, and we all screamed happy birthday. We then sang and handed Katie all of her gifts. To go along with tradition, the girls and I hit Katie on the back 19 times because she was turning 19. We had lunch afterward and hanging out with everyone was so fun~ I am always reminded, when I’m with these girls, how lucky I am!

After school, I went to Twosome Place with Katie. I bought her a milkshake and she got to eat the birthday cake I bought her~ When I ordered for the both of us, I asked her if there was an option for paying with card and the lady was shook. She told me “Wow, you are so good at Korean.” We laughed because we are literally so confused when this lady speaks half of the time. The compliment was really nice and appreciated, though.


Technically, we aren’t allowed to bring food into the cafe… but where else would Katie have eaten a fancy cake? In order to hide the fact that we didn’t buy it there… I might have stolen a dirty plate from the return pile near the trash bins and put it the cake on there!! {Sanitary? Not in the slightest bit…} We hung out and talked, studied a bit, and just had fun together~

Though, while Katie was taking photos of her birthday cake, she dropped her iPhone right on top of the cake slightly squishing it and getting icing on her phone screen. She quickly grabbed it out and cleaned her phone while I was absolutely no help trying to keep myself from laughing too loud and annoying the other customers in the cafe. I took the above picture at a certain angle so you could not see the dent in the cake from Katie’s phone.

11/24/18 Saturday

Today was going to be a jam-packed, busy day! First, I would be going to the Express Bus Terminal with Kaitlyn to do some cheap shopping and then hopping on over to the COEX Mall in 강남 to eat some REAL American pizza {so no 옥수수–corn} in order to celebrate Katie and Alix’s birthday.

Kaitlyn and I met up at around 2 pm. At first, I was worried that we would spend 5 years walking around trying to find the underground shopping {because that’s what Sofia and I did when we went there for the first time in 2016} but we just happened to go out the right exit. We literally spent more than 3 hours there. We first walked down one side of the long corridor of vendors before grabbing some lunch at the “food court” type thing. {I called it that but it really wasn’t similar to an American mall food court… there were just individual restaurants and convenience stores.}

Kaitlyn and I stopped at this one cafe looking place because we saw that they were advertising this grilled cheese sandwich. I was so excited to actually have grilled cheese in Korea {Though, I knew it wouldn’t be as good as my mom’s delicious, unhealthy grilled cheese with Tuna}. Kaitlyn ordered a bagel sandwich with egg and spam. We were both pretty disappointed… my sandwich literally had strawberry jam? Like what? Come Again? Kaitlyn’s bagel wasn’t really a bagel? Hard to explain fully. Short story short: we were disappointed but still ate everything because we were hungry and it was cheap.

After lunch, we got some ice cream from the convenience store and talked about our plan of attack for the shopping— we would be going around the aisles once fully and seeing what catches our eyes. Then we will return, and buy the things that really intrigue us/we can’t get out of our minds.

We ended up buying matching fake supreme sweatshirts— mine in pink and hers in white {Don’t worry… we are wearing it ironically!} and we bought lots of socks! 11 for $9! What a deal! That cannot be beaten! As for me, I went a bit crazy and bought a long cardigan, a black small cross body purse, and another cute sweater. I didn’t spend that much! And… I worked at a frozen yogurt shop for the entire summer… I think I can use some of my college savings on myself. {Evidence of me trying to give excuses for my bad decisions—shopping. Though honestly, I had not spent that much on just shopping for myself this whole time I’ve been here so I’ve been doing well. I know the value of a dollar!}

Kaitlyn bought a sweater and some shoes and I lent her money because quick tip: some places here only accept cash! Or there are fees for using your card.

Once we completed our shopping endeavors, we made our way over to 삼성역 to meet the others. I was totally ready for a truly American feast!

We ate at this pizza place that was honestly the real deal from the decorations to the parmesan cheese and pepper flake shakers on the table. Our big group of 11 {maybe 10… can’t remember} ordered 3 pies: pepperoni, margarita, and Hawaiian. We also all debated the validity of Hawaiian pizza… only three people liked it so I stood my case— pineapple does NOT belong on pizza. {Fight me!}

The pizza was so good. Incredibly greasy and heavy on the stomach– exceptional. No corn or sweet white sauce or potatoes— perfect. The bill was quite expensive and we ended up paying $10 per person but it was 100%… no 117% worth it.


After pizza, we walked around the mall for a bit which included visiting the famous StarField library {or is it a bookstore?}. I would love to go back and spend more time there. We got dessert at this place called Ben’s cookies which weren’t half bad. Although, if I’m being honest, the gelato was better than the very very very hard cookie. (Soft cookies are always number 1!)


After a few people left to go home early due to curfew, I hung out with Addie, Katie, Jacquelyn, Josh, and Liam for a bit longer. We walked to another subway station and found a Christmas tree on the way! It was so big and beautiful!


I came home kind of late and literally fell asleep right away. No studying was done this night. And so this marks the end of this blog post~ Stay tuned for the next one! I have not posted a blog in more than a week! School and Korean class workload (and my diminishing motivation) are really taking a toll on me… I have fallen behind on writing blog posts too (let alone editing them to post…) Once this monthly test is over, I will try to do a week of spammed posts!! Till then~ Bye!

  • Emma 엠마

Emotional Breakdowns Pair Well with Korean Fried Chicken {11/22/18} NSLI-Y AY

11/22/18 Thursday

Thursday started off like any other day; however, it ended with some quality time with good friends~ At school, nothing extraordinary happened. I took notes in AP World History and sneaked in some Korean homework in for good measure. {Which is somewhat of a lie? There was really no hiding what I was doing… but I had a workbook to finish.} During Art, we worked on our books and wow, I am so bad at drawing… never realized how bad I was. My teacher came over and complimented my Korean writing {most likely cause she knew she couldn’t lie to me and say something about my drawings}. I’m not sure when our books are due… but there’s no way I’m finishing mine outside of class. I have no desire to do that.


For lunch, Katie and I ate with Corey and Andrew in the teacher’s lunch room which was pretty awkward! Everyone was looking at us. And, at first, I believed it was because we were the obvious foreigners. This definitely did add to the stares, but then I also realized that we are probably the only students that have ever infiltrated their space? I wouldn’t think many Korean students eat with the teachers… I can’t imagine that at all.

Anyway, lunch was really nice. We got to joke around more with the teachers and talk about anything and everything. It was definitely better than sitting alone. We lost track of time and had to rush to the bus stop. Luckily, we made it just in time!

And though I try not to be negative— or uncharacteristically negative… this following part of this blog post will be quite personal and not the most positive.

Korean class today was a mess.

I felt incompetent.

So much so that it brought me to tears—literally.

Let’s talk about it.

Class started off fine. We were supposed to have a quiz on chapter 4 & 5 from the textbook so I had stayed up pretty late studying grammar and spent a lot of my morning memorizing two Quizlet sets {both with 80 something words}. When I got to class, Jacquelyn and Josh started telling me that there was no quiz because we didn’t finish the culture part of the chapter. I just stood there letting them figure themselves out. I didn’t want to seem rude, so I didn’t point out the fact that we have a syllabus and 퀴즈 (quiz) is very clearly written on today’s date.

Jacquelyn told the teacher that she and Josh didn’t prepare; the teacher decided to push the quiz back to Monday because of this reason. I’m going to be honest: I didn’t mind the quiz being pushed back. That’s more study time for me, too! However, I had a problem with the teacher not even saying anything about the fact that they should have checked the syllabus… good on me for studying… and good on them because they get rewarded with a postponed test. I’m not really angry, but I was kind of disappointed on how the situation was handled. And, they would probably feel the same way if it was them in my shoes. I didn’t and don’t want them to get in trouble but… sigh… does this make any sense?

The first half of the class turned out to be pretty good. Because I had studied the vocab words from the chapter in preparation for the quiz, I was able to understand more of what was happening in class than normal. I was able to bring up these words in examples and it was nice knowing their meaning ahead of time.

But then 민정쌤 came in to observe our class and take notes. It really wasn’t a big deal that she was in there… but then we had to read this passage about 한자 (Chinese characters– borrowed Korean words from Chinese characters) and honestly, those cultural paragraphs are always a hit or miss for me— either I understand them or I literally have no idea what is going on. Also—though this is on me too—when I read aloud, it is really difficult for me to get the meaning of what I’m reading because I’m too caught up with how I sound: pronunciation, speed, etc. I was reading the part that I was called to read and struggling through every other word it seemed. At one point, I went back and started reading a line I already had read. I was trying to combine one half of a word with the first word on the previous line which did not work because I don’t think it was even grammatically correct. However, my teacher assumed I didn’t know what I was doing {which I mean in part, I didn’t} so she continued reading my part but instead of helping me with the first half she slowly finished the entire last sentence of the paragraph. And I know she didn’t mean to make me feel horrible… but she did. In a way, I felt mocked? I was so embarrassed. As my teacher was explaining something on the board after my reading, I had to keep my nose down in the textbook to keep myself from crying or showing the others that tears were welling up in my eyes. When Jacquelyn read the last paragraph, I was also fighting back tears. Why am I so emotional? If it was anyone else, they could laugh and try to explain they were reading the wrong line… but no not me— I just cry about everything !!!

민정쌤 left the room and it was break time eventually. I immediately left that classroom and ran down the stairwell to the first floor. I stayed in the “lobby” for a bit and quietly cried but it was all still too much. I ran outside and in front of the Better World Door, I cried. I burst out in tears and cried— no soft, cute, silent crying here. It was loud, depressing, and snotty. I was a mess. I tried calming myself down by pacing back on forth on the front step which eventually worked to soothe my nerves. I couldn’t believe I had just cried so much— in public too.

When I got back inside, Josh asked if I was okay… I told him I just needed fresh air. Later that day, he told me he saw me outside on my phone. I realized that he might have seen me crying? Possibly? I’m hoping that that wasn’t the case. Don’t need another reason to be embarrassed!

I carried on the for the rest of the class and was ready to leave after 4 somewhat painful hours of Korean. I met up with Kaitlyn, Josh, and Liam to buy a birthday gift for Katie and to get dinner. We stopped at Blanc Bakery where I bought a chocolate strawberry cake so that Katie could have a slice at our after-school study session at Two-Some. We also went to Artbox where I bought this cute notebook, a lock for our shared locker, and things to wrap the gift with.

For dinner, Josh, Liam, and I went and ate some chicken. We went to this one restaurant because this lady was really friendly when giving out free samples in front of her restaurant. We figured we’d come back and support her business; however, we realized soon after that… the treatment was not special. A group of Eastern Europeans came in and they were like “We came back!” We also saw a small group of foreigners next to us too. We concluded that we were not unique, and she is just extra friendly with foreigners to get them to eat at the restaurant.

The food was good though; we ordered a curry chicken platter? Honestly it was interesting because I’ve only ever had curry with rice… not chicken tenders or French fries. It was good though! After eating, the boys had their “second dinner” of lamb “kebabs.” {I put Kebabs in quotation marks because the lamb was given to them in what seemed to be flour tortillas? Burrito much? Not on a stick like a traditional kebab. Unless that’s how the Turkish do it? No too sure…} We walked around 홍대 for a bit together before it got pretty late, and then I came home.


I also played with homemade slime for a bit with my younger host sister ❤

It was pretty late and I was too tired to do anything really productive… I think I made a Quizlet? I went to bed early and enjoyed the peace before the study grind that would occur the following day { for the unit/end of month exam!}

That’s all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed!

  • Emma 엠마


Korean School Performance? School Dance? School Festival? {11/21/18} NSLI-Y Korean AY

11/21/18 Wednesday

NO SCHOOL! CAN I GET AN AHHH YEAH?!? Was that cringey? I’m sorry… I’m just really excited about the prospect of missing school. On this day, in particular, the first and second-year students were taking a mock exam for the 수능 and because we obviously didn’t have to take the exam, Katie and I didn’t go!

We still ended up meeting and going to the Twosome Cafe near the school at 1 pm, however. {We originally thought we had club meetings to attend at 3 pm…} We hung out at the cafe for a bit— enjoying some drinks and studying. I had a quiz the following day, so I was a bit more panicked than normal about the immense amount of vocab I hadn’t memorized yet. I was falling behind…

We returned to the school to attend our club meetings but were surprised to see that no one texted us letting us know there were meetings today or to check in with us on the meeting location. Katie and I went to both of the rooms are clubs met at two weeks ago, but the rooms had weird vibes? And there seemed to be a formal looking person inside. We decided to leave and try to hide somewhere but we began to both feel anxious. We were panicky not knowing what we should be doing… as we went down the stairs, I could feel my leg shaking because of my nerves. Eventually, we decided to see if the foreign teachers would let us hide out in their office but even though we saw Jason walking in the hallway, we had no courage to ask him. We waited outside their office for several minutes trying to muster up the courage to knock.

Jason eventually came back and told us Corey was in there and that it would be fine if we came in. We sat on these chairs against the wall and literally stayed talking with Corey and the other teachers for more than an hour. It was honestly a lot of fun and it felt good getting certain things out. Because they are also foreigners in Korea, they understood our struggles. They were also adult figures that were concerned for us but would not get too worked up over our hardships. I love our RD 민정쌤 and the Better World Staff… but sometimes you want to hear “Oh man, that’s really terrible.” Instead of “How are you going to fix this? Are you sure it will get better?” or something along the lines of that.

After talking with them, we left to meet our friends Jacquelyn, Jack, Josh, and Liam at 연신내역 as we invited them to attend the event at 하나고 with us because it was open to the public. We met them there around 5:30 so that we could grab some dinner before the performance. Katie and I walked around the street surrounding the station looking for some 분식집 because we didn’t want to spend too much because the weekend was approaching. We found this 만두 place and decided that it would be best.


We all shared two platters of 만두 {소고기 & 김치} and one set of 보쌈. It was all very delicious~ But… not very filling for how much we had to pay per person. After goofing around during dinner, we were on our way to 하나고 with our NSLI-Y guests.


We got there about 20 minutes before the event was scheduled to start and Katie and I were already shook. We looked at the normal building for the gymnasium and was shocked to see that there were purple lights flashing. It looked kind of like a school dance in America! {from the outside} Upon arriving, everyone was staring at the large group of foreigners walking in— the girls, in particular, were freaking out over Liam and the other guys. We found 서린, 혜지, and 지연 after looking like lost little sheep for a bit, huddled near the entrance. They showed us where to put our bags and we went and found a place to sit. Though the lights and the music playing were strongly reminiscent of a school dance back at my high school, the atmosphere was completely different. No one was dancing. Everyone was either standing still in small groups or huddled together on the floor.


The first performance of the night was a DJ. These 5 students {including my friend 윤세} player some dance songs… as well as some other questionable choices. And, at first, it was so awkward. All the students were just standing in their long padded coats not even moving to the beat— no side steps or claps to be seen anywhere.

The other girls, including Katie, were really hesitant to dance so, in the beginning, it was simply Jacquelyn and me trying to get people moving as we jumped along to the music. {The boys were also quite stiff with their dance moves.} While we were dancing, as we were pretty much the only ones in the whole gym, so many of the students {and teachers even} were staring. There were also plenty of photos of us taken! Eventually, people got more comfortable and that’s when things really got fun. Everyone was clapping and jumping and trying to actually dance. At this point, I was having so much fun and didn’t want to leave {which was very upsetting seeing that today was a Wednesday and we still had to abide by a weekday curfew}.


After the DJ opener, song and dance performances followed. Many of them were by students that were so very talented! The songs chosen were mostly ballads which are exactly up my alley! One duet sang Lee Hi’s Breathe! I was dead! I couldn’t help but sing along as if I was in emotional pain too. Between many of the musical acts, there were little performances of the group of 하나고 students that were doing a “re-enactment” if you will of the Reply 1988 Korean drama. Our good friend 도윤 was playing an old lady which was hilarious! She was so good~ We all really enjoyed how she got so into character.


Also, the teacher in charge of the cooking club came and brought jars of 고추장 for Katie, me, and our friends! We even got 하나고 gift bags! It was too cute~ I cannot wait till Katie and I get to attend our first cooking club meeting! (*cough cough editing this three months later… that first meeting never came…yikes.)



Josh, Jack, and Liam left early to make it home in time for curfew while Katie, Jacquelyn, and I waited till the last possible minute to leave because we were enjoying ourselves too much {plus I live closer than most of the others}. We ended up having to run to the bus stop, though. It was definitely a rushed ending to a fun night that I’ll never forget.



Enjoy this photo! 😛

I made it home right at curfew and patiently waited for a curfew check {that unfortunately never came}. I spent the rest of the night hardcore studying for a quiz in Korean class the following day.

That’s all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ I know I did! Thanks for reading!

  • Emma 엠마


School, Korean Classes… Repeat? {11/19-11/20/18} NSLI-Y AY

11/19/18  Monday

I took barely any photos these two days; therefore, I can’t remember much of what I did looking back. School was okay. I was able to survive another period of AP Statistics {the only period I would have this week because our Wednesday class schedule was being moved to Tuesday… And because we leave school early for Korean classes on Tuesdays… No Statistics for me!} English was spent reading an excerpt once again, nothing too noteworthy to be honest.


Katie and I ate lunch by ourselves {cue the sound of a sad violin playing} but it was fine because lunch was delicious and we had some fun conversations~ I can’t really remember Korean class… so then it must have been okay then? I think I goofed around with Josh and 민정쌤 during every single break which was definitely time well spent between Korean class periods.

Monday after Korean class was our bi-weekly meeting~ Jacquelyn, Josh, and I made our way over to CYC once class finished up. We received a lot of information about things to turn in or think about or prepare. We have our last excursion reflection due, a presentation to make when we meet Korean high schoolers for another 한미 camp of sorts next month, and a Christmas party to start planning for! We are having an overnight Christmas party at a hostel from December 24th to 25th~ Unfortunately, the majority of NSLI-Yians have school on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas; however, Katie and I do not! All the other schools are taking finals in the middle of December for a week and then have school until the 30th or 31st {with Christmas off}. At 하나고, finals week is the week before Christmas and they get the rest of the month off which means Katie and I get such a nice break!!! I’m so happy!!! I’m counting down the days! 3 weeks to go!


I came home from Korean class after the meeting and worked on homework for basically the entirety of the night. I ate dinner with my host family and hung out for a bit, but I did spend most of the night in my room studying.

11/20/18  Tuesday

Tuesday wasn’t too eventful~ It was a good day but like I said before, nothing too special. It was, however, a perfect day for showcasing my daily routine in Korea {or “normal days” should I say}. I’m sorry for uploading such a boring blog— feel free to skip ahead.


The school schedule for today was special as we were having our Wednesday classes instead which meant I had 경제학 (Economics) and 한국사 (Korean History). In economics, we did actual learning during the first period but the second period was spent simply watching a documentary {which I actually thoroughly enjoyed}. I did pay attention to a good amount of it… when I was not working on Korean homework. 한국사 was nice because it’s the one class I know I can do work in~ Two hours of focused study time is actually what I needed to get my huge plate of work done for Thursday’s class. I was so productive that I almost finished two whole chapters of my workbook! After the first break, the teacher noticed that I was using Naver to translate some words on my page {okay let’s be honest, I knew practically none of the vocabulary words in the fill-in-the-blank section!} He told me that when I needed help I could and should ask the people sitting next to me~ It was really sweet of him. But…. I wasn’t going to have my clubmate {is that a word? How does one refer to someone who is in the same club as you? EDIT: Wow, I re-read this to edit it and I can’t believe how stupid I was being… club member. Emma, that is the word you were looking for.} translate things to me. The thought was appreciated, though!


Our school is putting on some type of event? Like a play perhaps?

Katie and I ate lunch with our friends today {which we usually never do due to Korean class} but we had lots of questions about the event tomorrow that needed to be answered. While eating, Katie and I really lost track of time talking to everyone about tomorrow’s plans and chatting to 도윤 about slang and the NSLI-Y guys?!? Don’t ask! At one point, Katie checked her phone and it was 12:55! We’ve never left that late before, so we both freaked out— I almost swore. We quickly threw away our leftovers and returned our dishes and literally RAN to the bus stop. We were not going to miss the bus this time.

Even though our actions deserved some amount of freakout, we actually end up not getting there too late. I walked with a purpose from the subway exit to BetterWorld and only ran for a short distance at the end, and I only ended up being exactly one minute late! {If I had run more, I definitely could have been on time.}

Class was fine~ I honestly don’t remember too much. I didn’t really understand one of the grammar points in class very well but I was able to fake it till I went home and got the chance to look it up. We had some fun conversations and I felt like I performed pretty well {I could always participate more, though…} After class, I went home right away. I didn’t study too much as I was really tired and wanted to go to sleep early… but I did do the rest of my workbook to get it out of the way. I ate with my host family and spent a lot of time talking with my host mom after dinner. I helped my eldest host sister with her English work for a bit while enjoying some Honey tea and snacks my host mother prepared. It was a nice night~  {It was even better because I knew I could sleep in the next day!}

That’s all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed! Follow my blog for more content like this. I’m so behind on uploading these posts… so there’s plenty more where this came from~

  • Emma 엠마

Visiting a Confucian Private Academy {11/18/18} NSLI-Y Korea AY

11/18/18 Sunday

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View from the shuttle bus: goodbye 시골 한옥!

We woke up early Sunday morning in order to enjoy a homemade breakfast made by the 한옥 아줌마 (The owner of the traditional house we were staying at!). She prepared an entire spread! We had the fish that we prepared yesterday in the form of fine fish powder? {I’m sorry… I really don’t know what it actually was…} And we also ate some actual 생선 (fish), 멸치 (anchovies), 계란찜 (steamed eggs), 사과하고 복숭아 살라드 (peach and apple salad), 미역국 (seaweed soup), 김치 (kimchi), quail eggs, and of course 밥 (rice). It was so very delicious! After stuffing our faces and tidying up our rooms, we left the lovely 한옥. {Not before taking A LOT of pictures.} We got back on the bus, ready for our next adventure.

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Look at all this food! My mouth is watering just seeing it all again!

40 minutes later, we arrived at our destination for the day where we could learn more about the history of Confucianism in Korea: 도산서원.

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도산서원 (Dosanseowon) is a Confucian Academy that was established by the disciples and others who revered Yi Hwang, one of the most prominent Korean Confucian scholars. (He also commonly went by his pen name: Toegye.)

We had another nice tour guide take us around the different buildings and sections of the area and explain the background in English. We got to see a school room for the boys attending the Confucian school {only boys were allowed to attend}, the dormitories, and even a publishing room that was used to print books. Our tour guide told us that it would take a week just to make one page of a book; therefore, it could take years to make just one novel.

She also showed us the front of a shrine made for Yi Hwang (Also–fun fact– the man on the 1,000 Won bill.) It’s not open to visitors until the anniversary of his death. On that day, they have a memorial service where they offer food and allow visitors to come inside and pay respects. The building has three walkways to enter/exit. One way was for the teachers, another was for students, and the last one is the path that humans are not allowed to use: the middle walkway was and is only for spirits.

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The shrine and the three entrances/exits mentioned above

We went through a museum after checking out all the traditional buildings before wrapping our visit with simply enjoying the scenery surrounding the private academy. 민정쌤 and 소영쌤 also bought us all cups of hot chocolate {or some other coffee drink of our choosing} which was really nice and refreshing in the cold weather. It was nearing 12 pm as we got back on the bus to head back to 홍대. For some reason, there was a lot of traffic which made the trip back longer than the expected 3 hours. We were all pretty exhausted from the weekend of activities, so most of us immediately fell asleep when we sat down on the bus.

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About an hour and a half into the ride home, we stopped at a rest stop for like 20 minutes to eat lunch. We all ordered and were able to literally get our food in less than 5 minutes; I was surprised by how fast everything came out. I ordered 짜장면 and enjoyed that while talking to some of the others. We got back on the bus shortly after quickly stuffing our faces to finish the rest of the trip. I tried playing SpyFall for a bit with Jacquelyn, Josh, Liam, Jack, and June for a bit but data charges are wild and many of us were tired too, so we only played two games. Though, the second game was so much fun because I was the spy and I did a great job of leading them off of me. So by the end of the game, everyone was guessing jack and Liam and no one even considered me.

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Once we arrived, we said our goodbyes at the Better World Office and separated to head back home. We were all exhausted and most of us still had homework to do for the following day.

I came home and talked to my host family about the trip over dinner. They also told me about the camping trip they went on. It was a nice chill evening. I finished all my Korean homework on Friday night, so I just studied vocab and posted a blog post. It was a nice night~

That’s all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed! This was the completion of our first far away, overnight cultural excursion! It definitely has left me with unforgettable memories!

  • Emma 엠마


Overnight Trip to Andong {안동} 11/17/18 {NSLI-Y Korea AY}

11/17/18 Saturday

I dreaded having to wake up at 6:15 am to get ready to report to the Better World Office at 8:30 am. But when I actually did wake up, my tiredness quickly turned into excitement and anticipation. I was ready to take our first ever weekend trip with my NSLI-Y cohort: this was going to be so much fun!


I got to the subway station around 8 am to meet with Kaitlyn to buy snacks for the two-day adventure. We bought so many things: chips, cookies, bread, drinks—the works basically. When we got to Better World, we were the first ones there… we even beat our RD 민정쌤! We hung out there for a while until everyone finally arrived. Also, many of the other students brought lots of snacks to share… but it turns out that we didn’t need any of that! 민정쌤 and 소영쌤 brought out this HUGE box filled to the top with snacks! They even had this huge bag of bread to give us for breakfast. It was crazy! We knew we would be eating well during these two days!

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We set out on the bus a little after 9 am. We got to take a big party-like shuttle bus (similar to the one we used when coming from the airport to our guesthouse on the very first day in Korea). It will probably be the same type of bus we will be taking back to the airport on our last day in Korea… BUT LET’S NOT THINK ABOUT THAT!} I sat at the very back of the bus with Jenna and Katie. The ride to the village was three hours. For the first two hours or so, I worked on my blog posts—trying to catch up with all this extra time! I also played this really fun game with several other NSLI-Yians: Josh, Jack, Liam, Harmony, Katie, and Jenna. The game was called Contact and Katie introduced it to us. Basically, it was a mix of the game Taboo and simply trying to think of the same word as someone else? I don’t know… it’s complicated to explain the rules in person let alone through writing. While we were on our way to 안동, we stopped at a rest stop to use the facilities and such. I think I tried sleeping after we made this stop? I’m not sure. The bus was really comfortable, though. You could recline the seats all the way back which made it seem like you were sleeping in a bed.

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Katie & Me ❤

Eventually, we arrived and it was nearing lunch time so we ate at a restaurant right outside of the village. For lunch, we had fish {mackerel???} and a variety of side dishes. I ate a fish eyeball !!! Yes, I did. Honestly, there was no taste. The texture was very hard at first like I was biting into a marble but then it turned squishy like the yolk of a hard-boiled egg. That’s what it felt like I was eating… a weird small egg. But the actual fish itself was delicious! And there was no lack of 멸치 (Anchovy) as a side dish so I was very happy.

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The  진수성찬 (Feast)

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Do you see that eyeball?

After we finished up lunch together, we took a bus into 하회마을 {Hahoe Traditional Village} to watch a 탈춤 {Mask Dance Performance}. 민정쌤 gave us these handouts so that we could read up on the performance and the scenes of the story because it would all be in Korean— with some “old timey” language and accents at that. The performance had this huge screen which displayed subtitles in English, Chinese, and Japanese which was nice. Sometimes the translations were very wrong and confusing, but they did help me follow along with the story pretty well.

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The play was a bit strange in some aspects… kind of suggestive in a way at the time too… especially since kids were there… I felt awkward. But since it was a display of traditional history, it needs to be showcased in its true form. I’m glad there were no major alterations to the storyline because that’s what makes the story what it is! Though, watching the monk sniff a pee puddle was a bit much… I found the bull peeing on the audience really funny!!!

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Shada being handed the bulls…private part…

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Also, during one of the scenes, they picked a woman from the crowd and had her pick two guys? She ended up choosing westerners and the actor was like “don’t mess anything up for the westerners.” She picked our lovely friend Liam!!! It was so funny seeing her pull him up out of the crowd. If we were not already recording the performance then, we definitely were now. Everyone pulled out their phone to record this interaction. Another foreign guy was pulled out of the crowd and they were both asked where they were from. The other guy replied with “USA” while Liam said 미국. We all cheered! He’s repping NSLI-Y with those language skills!!! Then, music started playing and they all started dancing. Watching Liam’s lanky body trying to dance in a somewhat “traditional” way with flowy/breezy body movements made me laugh–I could not help it.

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Liam is the one in the yellow sweatshirt!

Once the performance was over, we took a group photo and left the area for our tour of the 한옥마을. We had a tour guide walk us around with some microphone audio set and he told us all about the most famous places. He described to us the architecture of the houses as well as the social classes that lived in each one. We got lucky because one house was recently moved out of so we were free to look inside! We took many photos in front of the beautiful scenery and the houses. Every time we took out our large banner, everyone’s eyes turned towards us as they stared and read what the banner said: it was quite embarrassing at times.

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Traditional Korean Snacks: 한과

There was also this large tree that we got to tie a white ribbon around. On the ribbon, we wrote a wish we wanted to come true~

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Our Resident Directors~ ❤

At the end of the tour, we found these three large rope swings and took turns swinging on them. At first, I was really afraid because it went really high up and my stomach already cannot handle normal swings… but I sucked it up for the experience. {and the cute pictures~}

We also found this cliff off of a river and took some photos there. Everyone kept pretending to fall off which made 민정쌤’s face red every single time. It was priceless.

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The last thing on the agenda was visiting a mask museum that was also on the site of the traditional village. The mask museum not only featured Korean made masks but traditional masks from all over the world! I’m serious; every continent was covered and there were a lot of countries represented: Italy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, The Congo, etc. They had American masks too. This included both Native American masks and … Halloween masks. I’m not kidding. They had werewolves, goblins, zombies, etc.

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After the mask museum, we were all hungry and ready for a delicious dinner of an 안동 specialty: 찜닭! Ooooo boy was it delicious. While eating I sat with 민정쌤, Liam, Harmony, and Katie, and we talked about our thoughts on the trip so far but to be honest because we were so hungry, we were pretty quiet while scarfing down the food. At the end of our meal, we started talking about the differences between Korean and American education systems which was interesting because we got to hear from 민정쌤 about her experience. {Especially seeing that she has studied in both Korea and America.} She talked a bit about low-income students at the school she attended and how they are treated in Korea which made me feel quite sad… understanding what it’s like to be in their position. On a lighter note, we found out that Harmony is the best at (fake) reading palms. She can’t actually do it but wow is it believable when she tries!



Me full beyond belief!

Dinner made us all so very sleepy. Our bus ride to our accommodation felt so short as we all fell asleep. 민정쌤 screaming “얘들아! Wake up!” was the lovely way in which we all awoke from our slumber. The walk from our bus to the traditional house was quite sketchy. It was already 7 pm so everything was dark and because we were also in the countryside, there were no street lamps to be seen.

The traditional house was just what I expected. When you walked through the main gate or front door, you were still outside. There was a little courtyard in the middle of the house and all the rooms surrounding it. There were a lot of sliding doors and windows to keep the house cool in the summer; however, they definitely keep the house colder in the winter. How did the Koreans combat this? With floor heating known as Ondol (온돌). Underneath the house, there were places for coal which would burn and keep the floors nice and toasty. At first, I doubted how warm this would keep us but it got so hot! Even before we were sleeping, the room was pretty warm. If I stayed on an uncovered part of the floor for too long, I would literally get hot and feel slight burning sensations. Besides my makeshift pillow {a combination of my NSLI-Y jacket and my winter hat}, I slept like a baby.


When we first got to the house, we split everyone up into their rooms. I would be staying with Jacquelyn, Jenna, Katie, June, and Shada in the biggest room {with a connected bathroom}. Then we all piled into our room to have a discussion on today’s occurrences. We had slips of paper with discussion questions and we just answered them one by one hearing from the individuals in the group that had things to share.

Eventually, it was 8:30 and they let us go. But before we did our own things {like stay up all night}, the 아줌마 of the 한옥 wanted our help in preparing food for tomorrow’s breakfast. We all came out to this room on the edge of the courtyard. Those that were participating sat on these little mats and we were given the job of ripping the flesh off of dry fish skin. {that’s the best way I can possibly describe it} It was quite cold outside too so we drank some tea while doing the peeling. {I’m not sure what type of tea… but to me, it tasted like uncooked popcorn kernels.} The 아줌마 told us that she would use what we prepared just then for breakfast the next morning. She finely shredded the fish with a food processor and that was somehow going to end up in our breakfast? I was excited to see what would come out of it!

The rest of the night was just a bunch of shenanigans {and a lot of shushing because the walls are PAPER thin}. We played a couple rounds of Uno, Spot it, and this game called SpyFall online. We also just talked and chilled and got to hang out with each other because for many of us, our daily routine limits who we get to see on a daily or frequent basis. At one point in the night, Kaitlyn, Josh, and I got bored so we decided to literally leave the house and walk around. I’m not sure if we were told not to do that… but we only walked down to where the bus dropped us off and back. We found out that there were chickens on the property too! We tried walking up a bit behind the house but there was this dog that started going crazy which freaked everyone out. When we were walking by this stream, we saw an animal get startled and run away. We were shocked because it wasn’t obvious what the animal was right away. I thought it was the size of a cat but pranced like a deer, so for the rest of the night, we called that mysterious creature a deer cat.

It was like a giant sleepover for the rest of the night. I really enjoyed hanging out with everyone. Although I was trying to live in the moment, it was so easy for my mind to wander and think about the end of the program. How am I going to survive without my fellow NSLI-Yians? My literal soul mate Katie? Kaitlyn who literally never fails to make me laugh? The fearless Shada? Harmony who gives the best hugs? Liam whom, although I can practically never understand him, is such a good person to be around? Josh who if it were not for him in my Korean class I would die!!?? Jenna the little savage? And Jacquelyn who’s laugh makes my day? This isn’t everyone but they are the ones that really stick out in my brain when I think of this particular trip. I’m so thankful for them!! Maybe since it’s so close to Thanksgiving… that I feel like I need to share all my emotions!!! 

I drifted off to sleep a bit after 12:30. It was easier than I expected. Don’t knock using an 온돌 instead of normal heating until you try it! Seriously!

I hope you enjoyed hearing about the first day of our first overnight trip together~ I hope there’s more where that came from~ Thanks for reading!

  • Emma 엠마

No School // Productive Friday (11/16/18) NSLI-Y Korea AY

A/N: Mismatched blog post! This post includes Wednesday (11/14/18) and Friday (11/16/19) but Thursday is its own separate post that is already published here!

11/14/18 Wednesday

Katie and I had been looking forward to Wednesday all week because we knew we were getting out early due to 수능 {Korea’s College Entrance Exam} being the following day. I woke up Wednesday morning really not feeling well at all. My nose was stuffed and my throat was scratchy, and I was not in the mood to be participating in life at that moment {Mom, I’m fine. I’m just being an OVERDRAMATIC teen}.

First period was economics and I accidentally {well purposefully… I didn’t think it would have this effect on me} took NyQuil {I didn’t bring DayQuil with me to Korea…} so I struggled with staying awake during the first period of economics… I hope it wasn’t too obvious. During the second period, the teacher put on this documentary about capitalism {all in Korean} so I put my head on my desk and literally fell fully asleep for probably half an hour… it was great. I think I drooled and everything {TMI…} Though, at one point I woke up and realized that there were these white guys in suits on the screen rapping about capitalism and the economy in terrible Korean. It was hilarious!!!


Show Me the Money is a famous rap contest show here in Korea

Second period was 한국사 (Korean history) and although I usually do my Thursday homework in that class, all the students were able to convince the teacher to go outside and have 야외수업 {outside class}. At first, I was worried I wouldn’t know who to hang out with but I found a girl from my homeroom and luckily she didn’t find me too burdensome and let me hang out with her and her friend. We mostly talked the whole time. We walked over to the gym teacher that was currently having a class and talked with her for a bit, too. She was really nice and asked me lots of questions. She was patient with me and never spoke in English which was greatly appreciated. I was able to explain with details while using all these grammar points!!! I felt so proud of myself!



After the first period of 한국사, the first and second years were having a meeting of sorts so Katie and I found a little empty corner of the hallway and studied a bit before lunch. We ate lunch with our friends 서린, 지연, and 도윤 and had fun telling them all the gossip about the kids they would be meeting the next day. 도윤 had also caught a cold and looked terrible at lunch! I felt so bad but secretly I was a bit greedy because I was more upset that there might have been a possibility that she wasn’t coming to the Thanksgiving Dinner with me. {I am not sure if I have mentioned this yet? In order to celebrate Thanksgiving {early} we were having a lovely dinner of Thanksgiving food: turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies, stuffing, cranberry sauce, the works! We were allowed to each invite one friend from our high school.} She had been so excited though… she even bought a new dress online for the dinner!

Once we said goodbye to our friends after lunch, Katie and I went to go study at our new favorite cafe near my host family’s apartment. It was our first time there wearing uniforms so it was a bit strange… but to our surprise, there was another foreigner there!



We studied there for a few hours before leaving to eat dinner with our families. While I was eating dinner with them, I answered a question posed by my host sister and I guess my host mom noticed my rather raspy voice. She asked “Emma, did you catch a cold?” quite worriedly. She immediately gave me more 김밥 on my plate, made me some honey tea, and gave me a little bowl of pomegranate seeds. Right before I left the dinner table to finish my presentation and memorize it, she thrusted two tangerines into my hands and told me to eat them in my room. I was so grateful that she had such concern for me regarding my health. I think she knew it was serious because as soon as I came home, she found my door closed and I was laying in bed {something I never do}. I am never in my bed if I am not sleeping. I took a nap for about 1.5 hours before dinner.

11/16/18 Friday

I woke up today at 7 am to see if my coordinating teacher had texted me back letting me know that I was expected to attend school activities that day. Luckily, there was no text. I stayed up for the next 15 minutes in case of a reply but nothing came. I went back to bed and did not get up, for real, until a little after 9:30 am. It was so nice to sleep in again~ It was honestly like our Thanksgiving break?!?! If you think about it… we had early release on Wednesday, and we had no school on Thursday or today! Glad to have been given this break~ It was really needed!!

In the morning, I just cleaned my room and started packing for our monthly excursion– a 1박2일 여행 (One night 2-day trip) to 안동. I also did some laundry! I was able to get caught up with all of that and wash both sets of my school uniforms~ Go me! it was definitely a productive morning/early afternoon. While waiting for my laundry to finish up, I also video-called my mom for around 15 minutes. She had been sending me a lot of messages over Kakao during the past few days but I really could not find the chance to answer them all. I would look at them and plan out my responses but I always waited, hoping for a better time. She got really worried and sent me this emoticon of a very sad puppy crying, and I felt so bad for leaving her out of the loop.

At 2 pm, I arrived at 공덕역 to meet Katie for some cafe studying. We walked for a bit and found a cafe called Cafe Bene. I ordered a hot green latte while Katie got some kiwi juice. We were there for about 3 hours working on Korean homework and random things on our computers. I worked on blog posts, reviewed my new grammar points, and just goofed around Insta for awhile.

I came home early to have dinner with my host family and spent the rest of the night doing all of my homework that would be due on Monday. I knew that I would not be able to do anything (especially have enough room in my backpack to bring any textbooks) while on our trip, so I stayed up past midnight working on everything. Fortunately, I was able to complete writing, study all the grammar learned this week, and make a Quizlet for chapter 3 vocab words.

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed!~ Yesterday was my first day back at Korean high school! It is a new semester (and technically the start of their school year) so basically, now I have finally had my last first day of high school. Things are going to get more hectic from now on but I will try my best to keep up (somewhat…) with these blogs! Till next time~

  • Emma 엠마

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Korea {& a break from school} 11/15/18 (NSLI-Y Korea AY)

11/15/18 Thursday

Today was the day I had been waiting for all week~ The day that we would be able to eat some real American food and share the Thanksgiving holiday/American culture in general with our Korean high school friends. Although I was originally worried that 도윤 wouldn’t be able to come, (I complained to 민정쌤 with some very sad messages when I thought this) it turned out to be okay! 도윤 was coming!!

My morning was very relaxing. I ended up waking up 10 am… no regrets! I lounged around in my room for a little bit while getting ready and even filmed some SnapChat videos to send to my friends— I even did a 먹방 {Korean eating show // Basically, you talk while eating and record that}. While taking to the subway, I memorized my speech in preparation for the dinner. I was definitely still shaky when I first practiced it at the youth center, but it was overall pretty well-ingrained in my mind after a few run-throughs.

All the NSLI-Y students arrived at 1 pm so we could do one huge run through on the speeches we would be giving. For most people, it went pretty smoothly. I was not really ready for 4 hours of class that day… I knew it would leave me exhausted but at least I’d be ready to eat! Besides my desire to crawl into bed instead of learning Korean, I think that this class was the best one of the week. I participated more than I usually do when creating example sentences with our grammar points and I did pretty well in a role play with Josh. I was the 선배 {senior} while Josh was the 후배 {junior} who was being yelled at by me for not paying attention to the details of this event. I think that I thought on my feet fairly well and I used a good amount of grammar points. I was proud of myself; am I allowed to think that?

Also, we gave our presentations on songs we liked and mine ended up turning out really well! I had memorized it the night before and barely made any mistakes in relaying my script to everyone. I also think I made it more interesting because I got to show them my 1 Second Everyday video from my senior year of high school {For those who don’t know me personally, I took 1 Second long videos every day during my senior year of high school and edited them into a compilation video.} In the video, the second half used the song “Wherever I Go” by Miley Cyrus which was the song my presentation was about. At the end of the presentation, my teacher told me that there were practically no errors— I felt so proud! I didn’t personally think that the presentation was anything special or out of the ordinary for me… but I will definitely take the compliment! I did work hard on it~ {And I did it early—memorization and all—which probably improved my presentation.}

After Korean class, I walked with Jacquelyn and Josh to the subway exit where we would be meeting our school friends.

Waiting at the station for everyone to arrive was nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time. Meeting everyone else’s school friends was fun but also quite awkward. I wondered if it would be just as awkward when 서린 and 도윤 would arrive. Eventually, they pulled up in their taxi and Katie and I simultaneously screamed! It was really nice seeing them again and it was a bit strange to see each other not wearing our 교복 or our 생활복. They were both wearing really nice dresses and carrying really nice bags. We all looked at each other and took in the fact that we were meeting outside of school in 홍대 of any place! I could tell they were really happy to have the opportunity to leave as they still have to wait another two weeks before they can go home and visit their family for the weekend.

We walked to the event location from the subway exit together. We were having our dinner at this place that allows you to rent space for meetings, study groups, etc. We all sat down at these long tables and at the back of the room, we could see all the food that was waiting to be eaten. 민정쌤 told me during one of our breaks between Korean class that we were having real American food. In fact, the turkey was actually FROM America. Everything was bought from the military base so we would be having the full spread. Before we could dig into the food, each of the Korean classes gave their presentations that were prepared. 1반 (first class – beginner class) spoke about all the different types of food usually eaten during Thanksgiving. 2반 (second class – intermediate class) presented about the activities usually done on Thanksgiving and after (Black Friday was included). Lastly, my class 3반 (third class – advanced class) spoke about the history of Thanksgiving: who the pilgrims were, the interactions between pilgrims and Indians, and how the actual holiday was established.

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2반 Mid Presentation

I did memorize my speech; however, I was so nervous to say it in front of everyone. I was heavily breathing and literally shaking the paper in my hand because of how nervous I was. At the beginning of my part, I stumbled a bit and had to look at my paper but from then on (except for slight pauses when I had to think about what to say) I was able to speak from memory. I know I could have read off the paper like everyone else and probably have spoken better because I would have had the words right in front of my face. But honestly, by memorizing the presentation, I actually learned what I was saying. By the end of it, these words were not still words I just looked up in the dictionary for the presentation, they are words that are now committed to my memory. I also think that I pushed myself by doing so. I would rather have struggled to try to speak without looking at the script than using it as a crutch. If you think about it on future terms, I will not have a script with me when I want to talk to others all the time (formal setting or not).


Thanksgiving 8

Once presentations were done, it was time to actually eat dinner! (The highly anticipated part of the night!) My mouth was watering just looking at all the food in their catering tins. There was turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies, stuffing, bread rolls, cranberry sauce, gravy and for dessert, and both apple and pumpkin pie! All of our Korean friends really enjoyed the spread of food. Additionally, all of them had never even eaten Turkey before this day! (Turkey is not eaten in Korea… mostly because there are no turkeys in Korea!) We chatted over dinner about our school life and other random topics to get to know each other. Liam brought up that he spoke Danish and 도윤 really wanted to hear him say something and I told him to call her pretty in Danish. 도윤 swooned at Liam saying this. When he got up to go get seconds with his friend 정우, 도윤 freaked out in front of me. It was pretty funny and sincerly adorable. By the time 도윤 and I were ready for dessert, there was no apple pie left which was kind of disappointing. I got a slice of pumpkin pie even though I never ate it in America– every time I had it, I did not like how it tasted. However, I ate the entire slice this night and was pleasantly surprised by how delicious it was. I do not know if my taste buds changed or if I was just trying to clutch on to something that reminded me so much of back home. Either way, it was a good pie. (Also, all of our Korean friends had never had pumpkin pie before either! A lot of firsts tonight! But this was pretty surprising to me because Koreans do eat a lot of pumpkins and I see a lot of pumpkin flavored things here… but then again, pie is not really a dessert of choice here so it makes some sense.)


Outside Perspective

Thanksgiving 2

The Above Selfie


After eating, we all took a ton of photos including a large group photo with the legendary NSLI-Y banner. 서린 and 도윤 wanted to stay out for a bit longer because (like I said earlier) they do not get the opportunity to leave school grounds often. We walked around with Liam, Josh, Jenna, and Jenna’s school friend. (When I say we, I mean the collective group of Katie, 도윤, 서린, and me.) Eventually, we decided to stop in at the bakery near exit 4 that Katie and I had gone to once before to have a place to sit at and chat until we had to get going.

Thanksgiving 5


Because of the special event, 민정쌤 extended our curfew by 30 minutes for those living in 서울 and an hour and a half for those living outside of 서울 (technically she did not say 고양시 so I consider myself having respected the curfew time…) I ordered a hot cinnamon tea and enjoyed the time being able to chat with everyone for a bit longer. It was a lot of fun! Before we knew it, 10 pm rolled around and everyone had to start leaving. Katie and I said goodbye to 서린 and 도윤 as they took a taxi back to 하나고. I got home a bit after 10:30 pm and most everyone was already sleeping.

Thanksgiving 4

My little host brother greeted me at the door with “Emma누나 왔어!” And my host mom greeted me. as well. I brought home two containers of leftovers for my host family so that they could try out what a Thanksgiving meal is like. I stayed up pretty late after that writing blog posts and doing some homework here and there. I convinced 민정쌤 to let Katie and I skip school on Friday because 하나고 민정쌤 said that it was okay seeing that there would be no actual classes on Friday. I fell asleep feeling very grateful for everyone~ At the event, during dessert, we all went around our table and said what we were thankful for. I believe that most people felt that it was kind of awkward or embarrassing to express those feelings, but I really wanted to share my feelings. I said I was thankful for 서린 and 도윤 and my whole NSLI-Y family for allowing me to live so happily and comfortably here. Studying abroad is difficult a lot of the time but because of them, it is also very rewarding.

That is all for this blog post! It was a very long one! Actually, I am sort of publishing this post out of order because my Wednesday post was not long at all so I decided to combine that one with the post for Friday (also pretty short in comparison to this here post) which will be posted after this one! I bet no one noticed the dates not matching up but here I am explaining that situation anyway! Well, I hope you enjoyed this post and even though Thanksgiving has passed by the time I upload this post (*cough cough three months later hehe) I hope everyone had a great day with family! Thanks for reading!

  • Emma 엠마